Michael Phelps, the 18-time Olympic swim champion who agreed not to compete at this year’s World Championships, could be reinstated for the meet by USA Swimming, ESPN reported Tuesday.
USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus told the US-based sports television network’s website that he has had informal, preliminary conversations with Phelps about possibly competing in the world meet at Kazan, Russia, from July 24 to August 9.
“It’s complicated, but there are ways in which it could happen,” Wielgus told ESPN. “There’s a pathway for things to be reconsidered—or considered.”
Phelps, 29, is currently serving a six-month suspension after a drink driving violation last September in Baltimore. His punishment was the ban, which ends early next month, and his agreeing not to compete at the worlds.
Wielgus said any decision on reinstating Phelps would be reviewed by national team director Frank Busch and USA Swimming’s executive committee.
“At this point, it’s premature to discuss any specifics about next steps,” USA Swimming spokesman Scott Leightman told ESPN.
Phelps won a record eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and retired after the 2012 London Olympics with a career record 22 Olympic medals, only to make a comeback last year.
While playing coy about his plans for more Olympic success at next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the worlds is the final major global competition ahead of the Rio swim showdown and a pivotal place for Phelps to test himself against potential Olympic foes.